Short Summary

Garber Park is a 13-acre wildland park owned by the City of Oakland located behind the Claremont Hotel in Claremont Canyon. Garber Park is home to significant stands of big-leaf maple, California buckeyes and regenerating coast live oak woodland and forest. The Garber Park Stewards vision is to safeguard the native wildland resources of Garber Park while reducing the risk of wildfire and improving the trail system.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Mounds of flammable duff underneath a eucalyptus
revealed after volunteers removed Algerian ivy
surrounding the tree.  Read Science Behind Eucalyptus
Fire Hazards by Carol Rice for more information 
 As most of us know the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the removal of eucalyptus and other hazardous vegetation in our East Bay Hills has been released for public review.  There were three public hearings conducted by FEMA, which ended Saturday, May 18.   But, you can – and I hope you will – make comments on the plan until June 17.   

The federal grant proposals from the East Bay Regional Park District, University of California, and the City of Oakland are intended to reduce the risk of another disastrous wildfire in the East Bay. The three agencies would cut down the non-native fire hazard trees - mostly eucalyptus, acacia, and pine - in designated areas in our East Bay Hills.  Removing these non-native trees would promote the eventual return of the affected areas to their native habitat.  Of critical importance is the 10 year yearly monitoring period where, according to the FEMA documents, "should success criteria not be achieved at the projected rate, additional adaptive management practices would be implemented to improve progress towards vegetation management goals."  

Recognizing that there is no simple answer to vegetation management in our East Bay Hills I urge you to first read an article recently published in Bay Nature by Dan Rademacher  - - that is an excellent summary of the issues.  The article’s focus is on Claremont Canyon, the canyon nearest where the 1991 fire began, where Garber Park is located, and where much of the controversy over eucalyptus removal seems to be centered.  The valuable volunteer efforts of Garber Park and others throughout Claremont Canyon is recognized, and Lech Naumovich, who has done so much to advise us and advance our restoration efforts in Garber, is one of four “people with unique perspectives on the place and the plan” interviewed for the article.    

Anyone who was here in 1991 knows the horror of watching the hills burn and knows that it could happen again. We all live through the frightening wildfire potential each fall. Supporting these projects is the best way we know to get rid of these fire hazards. 

Comments are due by June 17, 2013. 
Below are two ways you can help:
1) Write a letter or email the federal emergency management agency (FEMA) and urge them to approve the EIS as is and release the funds.  Send
      *  by email to FEMA at
      *  by fax to FEMA (510) 627-7147
      * via mail to FEMA, P.O. Box 72379

2) Sign a petition to FEMA titled " Support East Bay Hills EIS to PROMOTE FIRE SAFETY AND SCIENCE-BASED CONSERVATION.  We did, and urge you to sign the petition also.  Click below for the petition: 

For additional information:

* Read the environmental Impact Report documents:  It's a huge document, but I do recommend perusing through it.  Do read the Executive Summary for a description of the grants and the process.  Important to me was Section 5 - Environmental consequences and mitigation.  If you have concerns about herbicides being used and want to know about the management of the areas after implementation plan Section 5 will give you the answers.   

* Claremont Canyon Conservancy,  The Conservancy has been devoted to the cause of science-based prevention of the wildfires that have recurred in and around the canyon for the last hundred years.  It is here you can find sample letters as well as a list of talking points.  Also on their website are several excellent articles:  

*The Science Behind Eucalyptus Fire Hazards. by Carol Rice.  Carol Rice is a fire ecologist and has worked in most of the Bay Area's open spaces with the charge of protecting both ecosystems and human habitats.

*Issues Section,,CCC website: the most frequently asked questions such as:  Does “species neutral” wildfire risk reduction make sense?  Are eucalyptus trees being scapegoated? Clear cutting NOT recommended.  Absolutely worth reading.

*Costs for Growing Large Eucalyptus Trees will Sky-Rocket by Jerry Kent, Former Assistant General Manager, EBRPD.

*For more on Herbicide use:  Jake Sigg Responds to Citizens' Concerns about Herbicide Use.  An excellent discussion on the science behind the use of the herbicide and how it is applied.  

* Sierra Club Supports the East Bay plan for fire management and native restoration.  Read their letter here.  

FEMA needs to hear from you.  Time for action on this critical issue is now, and your help is critical.

Shelagh and Bob Brodersen